Fringe 2009: Fringe-For-All reviews (Second 10 of 30)

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by Matthew A. Everett | 7/15/09 •

“It’s been a while since I’ve been to White Castle.”

Entropy Productions

The Nightmare Man

single white fringe geek is the blog of matthew a. everett. in addition to being one of six bloggers covering the minnesota fringe festival for the daily planet, he blogs throughout the year about theater and culture.

A hopelessly romantic serial killer reliving his past events in order to discover his one true love. Through this discovery he learns more about himself than he thought possible.

This is where visual juxtaposition gets me into trouble. Robin Gillette reads the above introduction as two actors get into place nearby. Two male actors. “..in order to discover his one true love. Through this discovery he learns more about himself…” And of course, gay blogger that I am, I immediately go to the homoerotic subtext place. (Like we need another gay serial killer story, but that’s another blog entry. In that second or two I was just caught up in the possibility.)

I was also scribbling down the note – “longest nose I’ve ever seen” The actor playing the serial killer’s sidekick, who burst into his own improvised series of cheers and song in praise of their run to White Castle, had the most fascinating face. Built for comedy really. He was like a human cartoon (and I mean that as a compliment). In fact, based on his performance alone, I’d want to see this show. He was that amusing. (Plus, if his nose is big…) (end of inappropriate aside)

The strange thing is, the Fringe has two, count ’em, two romantic serial killer shows this year (in addition, of course, to all the other murderers running around in various other shows). There’s this one, The Nightmare Man, and then the peculiarly – and ominously – named Your Lithopedion. Normally, the words “serial killer” are guaranteed to get me walking in the other direction, toward any other show on the schedule. But between this preview, and a friendly message of inquiry from the Lithopedion crew, I’m seriously considering going to see them both. It’s the weirdest thing.

But this is what Fringe-For-All is good for – making me question my initial knee-jerk responses to things. Of course that just throws another spanner in the personal scheduling works, but then Fringe was never easy that way anyway. Better to have too many shows to see, than too few to care about.

Plus, they got out on the yellow light, the 2-1/2 minute warning, so they know how to get a preview to run on time. Good sign. I’m not entirely sure what the heck the additional bit of show description is on about…

A nightmare world retold through a serial killers eyes. Acceptance and truth bring the audience to a level of beauty and terror, that only the mind of a NORMAL person can take you.

…but they have me intrigued, since there’s apparently a lot of unusual laughs along with, you know, the serial killing.

Their show page


“The most melancholy of the fearsome critters, the swonk, refuses contact of any kind.”

Mother/Destroyer

Fearsome Critter

After banjo music leads to a severed finger, a desperate Jack seeks help in splitting from town and his wife guilt free. Will a past friend’s obsession with a dead woman thwart Jack’s shot at deliverance?

Speaking of fearsome critters, the actor with an enormous walking stick and a wild untamed afro I could have sworn was a wig – but later indeed seemed to be the actor’s true hair – just crowded Robin Gillette right off the stage as she read their introduction. These guys were intense. And funny. Mr. Afro-tastic held forth about many legendary forest creatures, while across the stage another fellow with a bandaged hand regaled us with the tale of how he lost a finger on the job. Meanwhile, in the background, the playwright/producer sat playing the banjo, in a world of his own. (And unlike their first red light run in with last year’s Fringe-For-All format, this year, out on the yellow. Well done.) Any show that puts the words “banjo” and “deliverance” in the show description can’t be all bad, right? I was bummed to miss Mother/Destroyer’s Skunkape Sexkult last year. (No, really. Don’t just take my word for it. Audience reviews on the whole showed a great liking for the thing. 4-1/2 kitty average with over 20 reviews.) This oddity looks like my chance to make up for that. I’m looking forward to it. One can never have too many fearsome critters, after all. Especially at Fringe time. their show page


“Smoking shrinks the baby, and I’ve got to keep my body fit.” Warsh lut Productions Oops! (no really, that’s the title) He’s gay. She’s straight. And now they’re having a baby. Oops. I know what you’re thinking. It *sounds* lame. But they take that premise and make a whole lot of comic hay out of it. And in a lot of ways you wouldn’t expect. These two characters fight dirty in the way only best friends can, and there’s a lot of humor there. I was also amused by how the one actor turned into the baby-to-be about halfway through – tormenting his mother-to-be any way he could (just like his unintentional daddy). They went out on the red light, but they timed it down to the second, so it was kind of cool to watch them slide in safe at home, even with all the laugh lines. The thing that sold me before I even saw the preview is that the writer is also one of the actors – Colin Waitt, the oversexed flamboyantly gay and murderous duke from Bards, and the wandering AWOL soldier from Baggage. That fact that he’s in it would be enough. The fact that he wrote it, and he’s spent several Fringe seasons working with a couple of playwrights I greatly admire, no doubt soaking up some of their writing tricks in the process, has me thinking the odds are very much in favor of a good show here. All that, plus the preview at Fringe-For-All introduced me to his acting partner-in-crime Jasmine Rush – equally fabulous and naughty. That seals it. I’m there. (You should be, too, if you need a good laugh.) Their show page They’ve got their own video trailer up now, too…


(I normally put a quote up front, but, well, this was mime) Kirsten Stephens and Dean Hatton Silent Poetry 2 Former students of Marcel Marceau share reflections of this great artist and visionary of the human spirit through their funniest and most thoughtful work, inspired by the man who gave poetry to silence. That sounds hopelessly pretentious, doesn’t it? Well, not to worry. These two are anything but pretentious. Skilled, yes. But also completely goofy. Their preview was a comedic chase scene with a bag of loot as the prize. Kirsten and Dean brought on their own low hanging curtain behind which they could disappear and from which reappear, something they did repeatedly. Down and up escalators, up and down in elevators, disappearing one place and reappearing another, struggling up an escalator going in the opposite direction, driving a car clattering down a set of steps. All to a jaunty piece of music. I wrote something earlier about why I was looking forward to Dean’s return with Kristen. All that still holds. They’re definitely worth checking out. Put some variety in your Fringe schedule with a little silence. They got out on the yellow light, obscured behind their curtain as they carried it off on their shoulders. It was only when Robin Gillette started to introduce the next act that you were reminded that for 2-1/2 minutes or so, no one onstage had spoken a word. Cool. Their show page


“This is called an Elizabethan aside, and you people in the front row better prepare yourselves.” Joseph Scrimshaw Productions Tragedy of You A one-man five-act Shakespearean tragedy! “Fringe Favorite” (Pioneer Press) Joseph Scrimshaw weaves the real life ambitions and tragic flaws of a random audience volunteer into a sophisticated mad-lib of murder, madness and comedy! Featuring original music performed live by Dennis Curley! Tragedy of You is a unique combination of storytelling, improvisation, audience interaction, music and traditional theater that celebrates and mocks the characters, conventions and plot structure of Shakespearean tragedies like Hamlet or Macbeth. The show examines what strengths and weaknesses connect all people by replacing the royal protagonist with the life of an actual audience member–what kingdom will they rule? Who do they love most in their life? Who will they ruthlessly murder? What tragic flaw will bring about their (probably) inevitable destruction? What better way to round out the first half of the evening before intermission than a peek at Joseph Scrimshaw’s latest solo comedy experiment? Back again, sans feather duster and French accent this time, he called his pre-selected audience volunteer (photographer, theater aficionado, and squirrel rescuer Scott Pakudaitis) to the stage. A couple of questions, mostly with answers involving squirrels, and Joseph was ready to regale us with The Most Lamentable Tragedy of Scott (“his purple hair extensions billowing the breeze behind him as he walked…”) It’s a clever conceit, and I’m interested in seeing it played out over the full Fringe hour during the fest, with someone truly random serving up the bits of raw material that get slotted into the tragic framework. Should be fun. And, naturally, he got out on the yellow light, plenty of time to spare. The man knows his stuff. His website – josephscrimshaw.com His show page


“We trade drugs for inappropriate hugs!” Epic Arts Repertory Theater Best Little Crackhouse In Philly (or Crackwhore – The Musical) TAP-DANCING CRACKWHORES SING SHOWTUNES! Shenanigans abound as former Twin Cities theatre slut Stan Peal brings us his sick, twisted cabaret that won the top prize TWICE at New York’s Bad Musicals Festival! “Best Little Crackhouse in Philly” is a perverted satire with a not-so-subtle feminist message. Why stop at glamorizing prostitution with the likes of Dolly Parton and Julia Roberts? Why not sing about what really happens in a crackhouse? The addiction, the assault, the disease. Desperation, abuse and the occasional dead crack baby. Well… because that would be so very wrong. And what better way to begin the second half of the Fringe-For-All evening than with tap-dancing crackwhores? Because really, doesn’t the theater need more tap-dancing crackwhores? I gotta hand it to this troupe. They gave it all they had. The crackwhores did indeed tap dance, and they managed to pull off looking both tired as hell, and musical number perky at the same time, don’t ask me how. The guys managed to be both skanky and amiable at the same time, don’t ask me how. The title number had that old time musical showtune bounce to it. So if you’re in the mood for lyrics like… “Just bring your dick and stick it in a chick!” or a musical that won top honors not once, but *twice* at the Bad Musicals Festival in New York… then this is your show. And if not, well, then you’re me. This one’s gonna have no problem selling the seat I would have filled. Trust me. Go with God, crackwhores and johns. I admire your pluck. And the fact that you did it all within the confines of the green light. Under 2-1/2 minutes to create a squalid little world. Well done. Their website – www.stanpeal.com Their show page And of course, a musical trailer (now with 50% more projectile vomiting)…


“You are *not* talking about Mars again!” Charlzik Theatre Company First Lady On Mars Losing the first election to a very popular president, she vows to win the rematch. How? Be the first woman to land on Mars! Audience gets to vote for the winner. Featuring plutonium, cheese curls and Tab. So what if someone who is clearly supposed to be Hilary Clinton was not only obsessed with power, but also obsessed with journeying to Mars? Our Hilary stand-in has an assistant with hair as pink as her can of Tab. She also has an ex-husband who is a reporter on the trail of the Mars story (and who looks so good in a suit, you really wonder what possessed her to dump him). So this all coheres into a story involving politics and audience participation somehow. Not a lot to go on here. Maybe it needs a tap-dancing crackwhore. Or just more of the cute reporter guy. But they just squeezed in all they had, getting done just as the yellow light was turning over to red. Their website – www.charlzik.com Their show page


“All you’ve got is a moment. And that’s not even close to a story.” Allegra Lingo Crescendo Through the eyes of a misfit joker, Allegra Lingo discovers that small beginnings can build into a powerful end. Inspired by the music of Aaron Copland, it’s like Fantasia, except with words instead of dancing brooms and scary demons. Allegra Lingo, creator of past Fringe hits Tipping the Bucket (2008, Fringe Encore Winner Rarig Arena), I Hate Kenny G (2007, Fringe Encore Winner Playwright’s Center, A Heap of Broken Images (2006), and Hubcap Frisbee (2005), returns to the Fringe with her fifth, and final, solo show. To be clear, the opening quote above is from the script, not my evaluation of it. So, Allegra’s hurdle this time is to compose a script that accompanies, and is accompanied by, various selections of classical music. As a sample, she trotted out her prologue. To the strains of “Fanfare for the Common Man,” (which she kept telling the tech in the booth to crank up the volume on), Allegra battled with her inner critic to fashion a story of her joker hero. (And she did it all, getting out in the yellow light zone besides.) I’ve got a bit of a leg up on some in the audience for this one, since I attended her full preview, and moderated the Q&A afterward. So I’ll spill a bit more. Allegra weaves together her own re-imagined tale of Daedalus and Icarus (who, among other things, dealt with the half-man, half-bull Minotaur in the labyrinth and built wings and flew a little too close to the sun), and moments from her own daily life with her partner and her dog. She even uses props! The music stand’s still in evidence, but just as in the shows that came before this, she continues to push herself to step away and, well, perform a little more. While I’m not fond of the whole “artists talking about their art” genre, I am fond of old tales told again, so they balance each other out nicely. Plus, Allegra’s got quite a track record. It is best not to underestimate the woman. Unless she’s like Cher with repeated farewell concert tours, this is the final solo show in the Fringe for Allegra. I know Mom’s not going to want to miss it. And I wouldn’t disappoint my mother, now would I? Allegra’s website – www.allegralingo.com Her show page


“I cry apple juice instead of tears.” Jeffrey Shockley Applesauce Fiction A couple, Henri and Francoise, live on a planet which is undergoing a food shortage. Science (or whatever) has discovered a way to travel between different potential universes, and those in power invite Henri and Francoise to conceive of a universe in which they have everything they want. Upon being conceived, the universe exists, and Henri and Francoise receive everything they could ever want from their “newniverse” selves. However, when they realize their dream world necessitates oppression and slavery, Henri and Francoise must confront themselves and overthrow the newniverse government in a coup d’etat. This was a weird one. But a good kind of weird. A male/female couple sit in matching inner tubes, sporting matching Fu Manchu moustaches on their faces (yes, the female, too). [An homage to the alternate universe episode of the original Star Trek? Isn’t everything?] They sloppily feed one another applesauce, try to kiss off some of the excess, and end up just leaving the rest of it hanging off their faces for the remainder of the preview. Oh-kaaay… It turns out these two are the benevolent dictators of an alternate reality, addressing (I think) their counterparts in our reality. They trot out their happy slave who backs up their claim of benevolence. She wears water wings. Apparently she has to swim in the regular pool, with water. Our inner-tubing, bewhiskered dictators float in a pool of apple juice. (And they got out on the yellow light, perhaps to go with the apple juice theme.) It’s a new play, and a strangely inventive one. The performers are all very enthusiastic about throwing themselves into the deep end of the oddity pool. Can’t put my finger on it but I am strangely drawn to this one. Perhaps you may be, too. It looks like fun. Their show page


“I know it’s disgusting because it’s full of people’s problems.” Tenth Muse A Dream Play Freud meets Nietzsche meets Alice in Wonderland (bondage a-go-go style)… as an angelic being descends to earth to bear witness to the sufferings and cruelty of everyday life. I don’t know exactly what rubbed me the wrong way about this one. It’s Strindberg. I know I’m supposed to like it. I don’t dislike Strindberg on principle or anything. The performers were all just fine. A woman in a (winter?) coat. A guy with red striped arm-warmers. A guy dressed like a refugee from an S&M dungeon, with a mask that had a pointy black beak where the nose should be. I guess I just don’t have much patience right now for the theater of “isn’t life horrible? how do we survive it? aren’t people the worst of living creatures?” Stop whining, August, and do something constructive with the hour you’re requiring we give you out of our horrible little lives. Otherwise, shut up and move over. Your yellow light is turning red. Maybe I should read the play. Maybe the excerpt doesn’t give the best representation of the piece as a whole. All I remember of Strindberg’s plays right now are “horny Miss Julie goes crazy and dies for screwing the hunky hired help” and “atheist father goes crazy and dies because mother wants more of a say in the child-rearing.” Ouch. Some people are in the mood for Strindberg. Right now, I guess I’m not one of them. Their facebook page Their show page


Matthew A. Everett is a local playwright and three-time recipient of grant support from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Information on Matthew and his plays can be found at matthewaeverett.com.

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